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About the project

View from Woolloomooloo render Sydney Modern

View from Woolloomooloo image of the Sydney Modern Project as produced by Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa / SANAA (c) Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2021

The Art Gallery of New South Wales’ transformation – the Sydney Modern Project – will create a new art museum experience across two buildings connected by a public art garden. The project involves the construction of a new building, revitalisation of our existing building, and significant landscape works.

The new building, designed by SANAA, will almost double current exhibition space with seamless connections between indoor and outdoor spaces, delivering rich and diverse experiences for all visitors.

The revitalisation of our existing building, designed by Tonkin Zulaikha Greer Architects, will restore original architectural features of the building, provide more space for art and scholarship, and enhance the visitor experience and sustainable operations.

The project will create an exceptional experience of art, architecture and landscape in one of the world’s most beautiful urban locations.  Kathryn Gustafson, Seattle firm Gustafson Guthrie Nichol and Australian landscape architects McGregor Coxall are working together to design feature landscape elements as well as an overall campus landscape strategy that draws upon endemic ecological communities that give Sydney Harbour its rich character.

The $344 million project is the largest government and philanthropic arts partnership of its kind to be achieved to date in the arts in Australia. Together with the NSW Government’s $244 million in funding, the Gallery has attracted unprecedented philanthropic support, exceeding its fundraising target of $100 million.

Infrastructure NSW is managing the delivery of the project on behalf of the NSW Government and Gallery. Richard Crookes Constructions is the contractor for the new building. Architectus is executive architect. The Gallery remains open during construction, which is scheduled for completion in late 2022.

  • Project benefits

    • A new building providing close to double the current building’s exhibition space to enable the Gallery to show more of the State’s outstanding art collection and attract major national and international exhibitions to Sydney

    • Revitalisation of the existing building to restore original architectural features, provide more space for art and scholarship, and enhance the visitor experience and sustainable operations

    • A new prominent destination showcasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and culture

    • Increased visitation to at least 2 million per year, including capacity to significantly increase student and teacher visits

    • Dedicated spaces and facilities for learning and participation, with innovative and interactive programs

    • The first public art museum in the nation to achieve the highest environmental standard for design with a 6-star Green Star design rating from the Green Building Council of Australia

    • Architectural and cultural landmark where people, art and ideas come together in the heart of Sydney’s eastern cultural precinct

    • A design that maximises and enhances open space across the site with significant landscape works, courtyards, green roofs and three landscaped accessible roof terraces

    • Improved 24/7 public access, landscaping and civic amenity for all visitors and an improved universal pathway with two new lifts to better connect Woolloomooloo with the CBD

    • Wider economic benefit to the NSW economy of more than $1 billion over the next 25 years, including the creation of 242 full-time jobs

    • Enhanced digital capabilities to expand engagement with schools, communities, artists and visitors

    • Exciting new opportunities for the Gallery’s staff, volunteers and membership bodies

  • Key milestones

    The key project milestones to date have been:

    2011: Sydney Modern Masterplan Framework, jointly prepared by the Gallery and Johnson Pilton Walker, was completed.

    March 2013: Launch of the Sydney Modern strategic vision and master plan to transform the Gallery into an art museum of the 21st century

    June 2013: NSW Government committed $10.8 million to advance plans for the Gallery expansion

    September 2014: Jury announced for Sydney Modern Project competition

    October 2014: Twelve shortlisted architects announced for Stage 1 submission

    January 2015: Five shortlisted architects announced for Stage 2 submission

    May 2015: SANAA announced as preferred architect

    June 2015: NSW Government committed $4 million to progress the design and planning of the Sydney Modern Project

    June 2017: NSW Government committed $244 million to build the Sydney Modern Project

    November 2017: State Significant Development Application lodged with the NSW Department of Planning and Environment and start of public exhibition

    December 2017: Public exhibition of State Significant Development Application concludes

    April 2018: Response to Submissions Report lodged with the NSW Department of Planning and Environment following review and consideration of all submissions received.

    October 2018: Infrastructure NSW, on behalf of the NSW Government and the Gallery, issued a formal Request for Tender as part of the competitive tender process to shortlisted construction companies.

    November 2018: Approval of State Significant Development Application for the project by the NSW Minister for Planning. More information

    September 2019: The NSW Government announced Richard Crookes Constructions as the selected contractor for the Sydney Modern Project.

    October 2020: Gallery announces program of works for revitalisation of the existing building.

    Current project stage

    Construction of the new building is underway by Richard Crookes Constructions. For more information, see Project status

    Program of works for existing building revitalisation is underway.

    SSDA landscape modification response to submissions is being considered by the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.

    Future indicative timeframes

    2022: Expected completion of the Sydney Modern Project.